Like all countries, New Zealand has a long history of gambling legislation detailing the legality of different forms of gambling from the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1977, the Boxing and Wrestling Act of 1981, the Racing Act of 2003, and the Gambling Act of 2003 – which best covers questions related to the legality of online casino gambling.
From our understanding of this Act, its wording itself, and the generally accepted interpretation, it is quite clear that, “it is not illegal for someone in New Zealand to participate in gambling over the Internet if that website is based overseas.”
What has perhaps caused some confusion on the matter is Section 9(2)(b) of the Gambling Act 2003 which prohibits remote interactive gambling at gaming sites that are operated from within New Zealand.
The Act, however, does not explicitly prohibit players from playing at online casinos whose servers are in another country.
As such, when making recommendations for online casinos to New Zealand players, we make every effort possible to recommend only those sites that adhere to this element of the law.
The Gambling Act of 2003 has been amended twice to-date. First in 2005 and again in March 2015. Neither of these amendments seem to have had any impact on the day-to-day rights of New Zealanders to play online.
1.No liability for players
The terms of the Gambling Act 2003 are very clear—it is not explicitly prohibited nor explicitly illegal for a player living in New Zealand to play at an online casino that is based overseas. Therefore, at the time of writing, players are at no risk of any form of prosecution if they choose to gamble at a casino hosted outside of New Zealand.
2.Gambling winnings are exempt from taxation**
There is no provision in the guidelines issued by Inland Revenue that relate specifically to winnings from online gambling. The guidelines do, however, make mention of income from gaming machines i.e., land-based pokies, stating that “all gaming machine income is exempt from income tax.” This is because Inland Revenue considers that for most people, online gambling is a hobby or a pastime as opposed to a profession, and accordingly, any profits garnered aren’t regarded as taxable income. This, of course, is subject to change, and it’s always worth consulting an accountant before you get too excited about pocketing a major win!
Online sports betting in New Zealand is controlled by the New Zealand Racing Board, which is the sole provider of racing and sports betting services through the TAB – a statutory national monopoly. However, international online sportsbooks fall into the same category as online casinos and so any sportsbook that is run from outside of New Zealand should likewise be able to take bets from New Zealanders.
The same laws are in place with regards to online poker rooms as online casinos—it is neither prohibited nor illegal for a New Zealand player to play online poker at a site housed outside of New Zealand.
Within New Zealand, numerous regulatory agencies monitor gambling – both online and offline. These include the Department of Internal Affairs (responsible for administering gambling legislation), the Ministry of Health (responsible for preventing problem gambling and protecting those afflicted), and the Gambling Commission (responsible for issuing and renewing licenses for casino operators).
Keep in mind, none of these bodies will cover you for gambling online – except perhaps the Ministry of Health, who you can always turn to, if needed.
Playing at an international online casino i.e., one based outside of New Zealand, means that in the case of fraud, unfair practices or any other issues, you will be subject to the legal system of the country that hosts the site, not New Zealand law.
However, this doesn’t mean that players are without protection. All of the online casinos that we recommend are accredited by the gaming authorities of their respective countries, and the relevant documentation and certification can be found on their sites.
In addition, all of the casinos listed on our site have been independently audited by a third-party agency, who certifies the casino in terms of the fairness of its games, the security of its operations, and the transparency of its financial dealings with players. Two such agencies that certify our online casinos are eCOGRA, a London-based testing agency and player protection organisation, and TST (part of GLI), which verifies that casinos comply with relevant regulatory requirements and the best industry standards worldwide.
Gambling online, for New Zealand players, is not illegal and as far as we could tell, no one has ever been prosecuted for gambling in offshore sites. But remember, laws (much like governments themselves) are subject to change.
*This article should not be considered legal advice. Local legislation, restrictions and enforcement are subject to change. In addition, we have no responsibility to update this page for events or circumstances occurring after the date of its initial publication.
** This article should not be considered as tax advice. Tax is applied and calculated personally, is subject to change, and may be interpreted retroactively. Any information provided herein, is for general knowledge only and may not be relied on. We urge you to seek advice from a tax professional.